6/02/2016
You misguided dreamers versus you outdated fucks

The moment it became very clear that Rodrigo Duterte will be president, there seemed to be some peace and quiet. Maybe this could be a good thing was the general sentiment, more so when the quick count showed Leni Robredo just pipping Bongbong Marcos for the second highest position in the land. That, they say, is better. Better a woman who will provide balance to the president's macho tendencies, than the son of a former dictator who, they say, should not be anywhere near an official ballot anyway.

The moment Rodrigo Duterte began setting the stage for him assuming the presidency, naming his preferred Cabinet and forcing the normally Manila-centric media to troop to Davao to listen to him speak at ungodly hours, the familiar rumbles returned. It may have seemed less toxic than the campaign season itself, but it certainly was familiar.

It's quite hard to make sense of it. Frankly, though, I say that because I have made no attempt to. I may or may not have decided to stop following the news, or at least the local side of it. It may be because I'm busy or I'm still fragile. I don't know. All I know is, some things have been said and done, and it does not sit well with everybody.

On one side are people my age. Well, not exactly. It's not really an age thing. Let me think this through again.

On one side are... I don't want to make this a spectrum thing. It's not the liberals versus the conservatives, not exactly at least, judging from how wide Duterte's mandate and appeal is. But that's the easiest way to grasp this divide. You have the students, the academics, the young professionals on one side. You have these people, whose knowledge of the world revolves, for better or worse, on what they see on a screen. They have a sense that things are not going fairly, whether by lines of gender or class, and they believe they can do something about it.

These people may not have necessarily gone for the yellows in 2010, but these are the people who somehow managed to be more hopeful for the future, despite or because of them. Now, the new leadership is making them feel that we will take many steps backwards, but not necessarily in things such as the economy, but rather about social norms.

Whenever Duterte does something that can be considered socially inappropriate or unacceptable - flip-flopping from one ideal to something more typical, catcalling a female journalist, condemning journalists to their deaths - they shake their heads in disappointment, and perhaps, even fear. "This is what I'm afraid of," they might say. "This behavior is not acceptable, but these people will soon think it is."

On the other side are, well, the conservative folk, if we're to stick with the spectrum thing. But that label suggests that they are backwards. I would not quite say that. There are just different priorities. Why are these kids fighting for that gender thing and that class thing? There are more important things we need to address!

And sure, there are still things that need to be addressed. People are still poor. Prices are still going up. Traffic is still terrible. These may be exceedingly simple things - oversimplified, perhaps - but these are still things we need to address. Much more urgently than all that claptrap these kids nowadays are preoccupied with, so much so that they can easily justify whatever it is Duterte did by dismissing everything else outright.

"You saw it out of context. What he said was..."

Or, worse, "freedom of speech is nice, but we need freedom from poverty more."

Duterte's victory is clearly due to those whose idea of change is something more concrete, something more tangible. It's in the roads. It's in how fast the cars are in those roads. That sort of thing. That has, perhaps, left those who believe their idea of change as more meaningful - meaningful, yet abstract - left behind. As they watch their aspirations go to dust again, they can only get frustrated, if not angry. And then they're shot down, because, well, what do they know? We know the problem. And then, no, we know the problem!

This is the split we have long been living with. This is the split we now have to live with.

And your responses...

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